In 2004, the World Challenge series entered its fifteenth season. For the sixth consecutive year, Speed Channel was the primary sponsor. As evidenced by the growth of the series, the Sports Car Club of America had developed a successful format that attracted competitors and fans.

Race weekends included two standing start fifty-minute races – one for the Grand Touring class and another for the Touring Cars.

  • Grand Touring (GT) – The GT class rules accommodate an extensive range of vehicles from different manufacturers. There is no limit to the engine displacement in this category and cars may use a forced induction system. To stop the cars, alternative materials may be utilized for the brake pads and shoes. Rules also allow the use of four-piston calipers but rotors are limited to 14-inches in diameter. The maximum diameter of the wheels is 18-inches and any changes to the bodywork must be approved. The series uses a spec tire and competitors race on Toyo Proxes RA-1s.
  • Touring Car (TC) – The Touring Cars are limited to an engine displacement of 2.8-liters. The motors must be naturally aspirated (turbochargers or superchargers are not permitted). The Touring Cars are also allowed four-piston calipers and alternative materials for the brake pads and shoes, but the maximum rotor diameter is 12-inches. Wheels in this group are limited to 17-inches. Cars can be fitted with a spec rear wing and approved aftermarket bodywork. This category also uses a spec tire from Toyo – the Proxes T1-S.

To prevent any driver/car combination from dominating the class and ensuring tight competition, the R.E.W.A.R.D.S. System was implemented. Introduced in 1995, R.E.W.A.R.D.S. is the acronym for ‘Rewarding of Equalizing Weight Assigned to Reduce Driver Sensitivity.' This weight equalization rule adds or removes ballast from a car based on the finishing position of a driver.

There were nine-race weekends during the 2004 season with a double-header events for each class. Touring Cars would race Saturday and Sunday at Infineon Raceway and the Grand Touring competitors would have a similar format at Mosport International Raceway. The opening round was in March at Sebring International Raceway, Florida, followed by a two-month break before teams travelled to Lime Rock Park. The third race weekend of the year was at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. In July, the teams trekked west for races at Infineon. Competitors stayed on the west coast for races at Portland International Raceway. Next, the championship made its only Canadian stop at Mosport. Returning south of the border, the first stop was Road America. The penultimate round was held at Road Atlanta and the series finale took place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The final round of the 2004 SCCA Pro Racing Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship was held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The race was scheduled to be fifty-minutes in length around the eleven-turn 2.238-mile road course.

Thirty-three World Challenge Touring Car driver’s line-up on the front straightaway at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. On the pole is the RealTime Racing Acura TSX of Pierre Kleinubing. Beside Kleinubing is the second-fastest qualifier, Shauna Marinus. This was the best qualifying result of the season for the Mazda driver. In the second row are Peter Cunningham and Marinus’ Mazda teammate, Jeff Altenburg.
Jeff Altenburg driving the Tri-Point Racing / Mazdaspeed Mazda 6 was the fourth fastest in the qualifying session. Early in the contest, Altenburg fell to fifth but by lap-14, he was in second place. Altenburg followed the leader, Pierre Kleinubing, until lap-21 when Kleinubing went wide in turn eleven. Altenburg, along with Peter Cunningham and Memo Gidley, passed Kleinubing. Altenburg hung on for his first victory of the season.
In 2004, Peter Cunningham debuted the Nissan Sentra SE-R. The highlight of his season was at his home track, Road America, where Cunningham started on the pole and won the race. At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, he qualified third fastest and chased the leader, Pierre Kleinubing, until he went off course on lap-13. Cunningham regrouped and chased down the leaders. When Kleinubing went wide on lap-21, he slipped by for a runner-up finish.
Former Indy Car competitor, Memo Gidley ‘saved the best for last.’ The team struggled with their best result being a pair of eleventh place finishes. At Laguna Seca, Gidley started fifth, driving the No. 48 Ford Focus. At the start, he moved into third and battled with Peter Cunningham and Pierre Kleinubing. When Kleinubing slid wide, he was one of three drivers to benefit from the mistake and grabbed the final spot on the podium.
Three-time series champion, Pierre Kleinubing, controlled the race until lap-21 when he made an error in turn eleven. He was passed by the eventual winner, Jeff Altenburg, Peter Cunningham and Memo Gidley. Unable to regain the position, Kleinubing finished fourth. Although he won at Portland and Road Atlanta, it was not a good year for Kleinubing. A disqualification, coupled with three poor results meant he was seventh in the final standings.
Scott Bradley was gridded in the thirty-fifth position for the start of the race. On the first lap, he advanced ten positions. Unfortunately, the driver No. 13 Circuit City / Sony sponsored Mazda Protégé ES encountered problems during the event and finished twenty-eighth – four laps behind the winning Mazda of Jeff Altenburg. For his performance on the opening lap, Bradley earned the B&M Hole Shot Award.
At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Kenny Yim was making his first series start behind the wheel of the KMC Motorsports Honda Civic. Yim started thirty-fourth and was in twenty-sixth place at the checkered flag – the last car on the lead lap. His drive netted him the Sunoco Hard Charger Award for advancing nine positions during the fifty-minute contest.
The only female Touring Car driver in the series, Shauna Marinus, delivered her best qualifying effort of the season. Racing the No. 71 Tri-Point Engineering prepared Mazda 6. She was a mere 0.472-seconds slower than the pole-sitter, Pierre Kleinubing and started on the outside of the front row. Unfortunately, contact early in the event eliminated Marinus from contending for the victory – she finished thirteenth.
The Speed World Challenge Touring Car podium for the series finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. On the left side of the rostrum is the runner-up and Realtime Racing’s team principal, Peter Cunningham. Standing on the opposite side of the podium and earning his best finish of the season is Memo Gidley. In the center is the winner from Tri-Point Engineering, Jeff Altenburg.

14Jeff AltenburgMazda Protege ES26-
25Peter CunninghamNissan Sentra SE-R26-
33Memo GidleyFord Focus26-
41Pierre KleinubingAcura TSX26-
58Justin MarksBMW 325i26-
66James SofronasBMW 325Ci26-
715Ken DobsonAcura TSX26-
812Bill AuberlenBMW 325i26-
99James ClayBMW 325i26-
1010Nic JonssonBMW 325Ci26-
1111Paul LambertAudi A426-
1216Charles EspenlaubMazda Protege ES26-
132Shauna MarinusMazda Protege ES26-
1422Scott PoirierMercedes C23026-
1518Seth ThomasBMW 325i26-
1624Victor ContrerasBMW 325Ci26-
1725Nick EsayianAcura RSX26-
1826Peter LockhartMercedes C23026-
1914Matt RichmondBMW 325i26-
207Bob StretchBMW 325Ci26-
2120Dino CrescentiniBMW 325i26-
2213Rick MakiAudi A426-
2323Kevin MckeeBMW 325i26-
2421Jon PrallBMW 325is26-
2530Brett EricksonVolkswagen GTI26-
2634Kenny YimHonda Civic26-
2717Chip HerrAcura RSX24-
2835Scott BradleyMazda Protege ES22Engine
2919Scott FredricksenMazda Protege ES20-
3033Peter BovenbergHonda Civic Si17-
3131Brandon PetersonHonda Civic Si14-
3227Seth NeimanBMW 325Ci10-
3332Justin ElinHonda Civic5-
3436Brian SmithDodge SRT-40-
3537Steven BernheimBMW 325i0-
3629Andrew MonterrubioAcura Integra Type R0-
3728Mike DavisHonda Civic0-

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